Are You Ready for a Wet Live-In? Explorations into
Janna Holmstedt will defend her doctoral dissertation in fine
arts, the research project "Are You Ready for a Wet Live-In?
Explorations into Listening," on Friday the 6th of
October at Bildmuseet, Umeå.
In shifting focus from the visual to the sonic, the world
emerges in a different way. Sound envelops us; we swim, even drown
in sound. When it comes to our sensory perceptions, sound travels
faster than light, and sight is not as independent a guide as we
might like to believe. Furthermore, today we are increasingly
addressed and guided by prerecorded and synthetic voices in both
private and public contexts. Seeing, however, has long held
precedence, and thus it is high time to turn our attention to
This journey into a predominantly sonic ecology departs from the
unique archival material of American neurophysiologist John C.
Lilly. In the 1950s and 1960s Lilly conducted controversial
scientific experiments with dolphins, as well as on himself. Among
other things, Lilly and his research collaborators attempted to
teach dolphins to speak English and recorded the results on
These experiments would reveal a complex space of embodied
entanglements which had the potential to challenge much of what was
then taken for granted. Lilly's experiments serve as a departure
point for the consideration of new areas of perception and
experience that sound technology has made possible: from the
discovery of whale songs in the deeps of the oceans, to outer space
with the hope of communicating with other intelligent life, to the
womb and the sound environment of the embryo. On the way we
encounter bioacoustic research, military experiments, sound
experiments within art, poetry, film and music, as well as
philosophers, media historians, and other theorists who have sought
to renegotiate both the division between and the hierarchy of the
senses and their ways of knowing, and sometimes even the division
between the human and nonhuman.
The series of installations and performances that were created
as a part of the doctoral work have been central to Janna
Holmstedt's inquiry into listening. The dissertation consists of
six artworks and an essay. This work is documented in the form of
an e-book, which includes sound, film, and images. The e-book is
available through the publication database Diva.
One of these works, the sound installation "Then, the bark,"
will be shown until the 5th of October at Konstfrämjandet in Umeå.
Time: Friday, 6 October, 13.00 (1 pm)
Place: Flexhallen, on the lower floor of Bildmuseet, Östra
Strandgatan 30 B, Umeå
External reviewers: Kristina Lindström and Åsa Ståhl
Examining committee: Amelie Björck, Angus Carlyle, and Cecilia
The doctoral defence is
carried out in collaboration with the Malmö Faculty of Fine and
Performing Arts, Lund University
Umeå Art Academy, Umeå University